January. The month when people who enjoy making lists are in their glory. On New Year’s Day, I reached out to a friend in my pod to see if she wanted to go for a socially distant walk to welcome the new year. She asked for a raincheck because she wanted to stick around the house and work on her January 1 lists. I ended up taking a solo walk and spent the rest of the day in my pajamas on the couch watching Netflix. But I thought about my list of things to accomplish this year. Does that count?

As I contemplated what to write for my Friday Forum blog post this month, there were a lot of topics to choose from, but I, too, had finally gone down the list-making rabbit hole. Therefore, for fans of the listicle (listək(ə)l, noun, a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list), I present two ranked lists about this profession to which we give our time, talent, and treasure. Enjoy!

Top 5 Things I Kinda, Sorta Dislike About Fundraising

5. Being away from my Fortress of Solitude and my furry assistant for days at a time. In non-pandemic times, of course.

4. Internal meetings (that could have been emails) side-tracking me when I’m on a donor outreach roll.

3. Hoovering down a fast-food hamburger between donor visits on the road. If you haven’t done this at least once in your career, are you even a fundraiser?

2. Opening your suitcase to get ready for your first donor visit after a cross-country flight only to realize you forgot to pack pants. Any pants. (Yes, I’m recycling this from my last blog. It was traumatic and I’m still processing. Don’t judge me, please.)

1. Honestly? Writing contact reports. Especially after a big trip with lots of back-to-back meetings. Having to remember all those critical details and then coherently write them down later, sometimes days later, can be rough. Between that and trying to remember 100+ passwords for every little thing, well, my brain fills up quickly these days. Thank you, tech geniuses, for creating voice memo and password manager apps!

Top 5 Things I Love About Fundraising

5. Sharing is caring. Collaborative colleagues who inspire me with their creative thinking, good humor, and best practices. You know who you are!

4. Realizing the power of philanthropy through transformational gifts. It’s pretty wild to watch commitments being realized, centers and programs being established, research moving forward, etc.…and we get to help make this happen! Wild, I tell you!

3. When you hear a donor smile through the phone upon hearing your voice. Warm fuzzies galore.

2. The art and science of philanthropy. I engage both sides of my brain regularly. No two days are ever really the same. Some are more challenging or rewarding than others, sure, but rarely the same. It keeps things fun and interesting.

1. I’m a facilitator of happiness. Fundraisers don’t “take someone’s money” as we’ve sometimes heard our jobs characterized. We’re helping to give joy. One of my donors said this to me when I asked why she was crying while signing her fund agreement. Her act of philanthropy was deeply meaningful for her. That moment will stay with me always.

Go forth into 2021 and give joy, my fellow fundraisers. Happy New Year!